Veterans

July 12, 2013

Korean War veteran tells story of littlest survivors

Tags:
Walter T. Ham IV
Bellingham, Wash.

korean-vets1
The Korean War veteran who established the Korean War Children’s Memorial in Washington state will return to South Korea this July.

Invited to Korea by Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-soo, George F. Drake, Ph.D., will return with other Korean War veterans for the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice.

While serving as a high-speed radio intercept operator, Drake volunteered to help orphans find homes during the Korean War. The 83-year-old former U.S. Army sergeant served in the 326th Communications Reconnaissance Company in Uijeongbu.

His Korean War experience stayed with him.†More than 10 years ago, following the 50th anniversary of the Korean War, Drake decided the war’s littlest survivors needed to be remembered along with the American service members who helped them.
korean-vets2
Drake launched a campaign to have the Korean War Children’s Memorial built in the park near his house in Bellingham, Wash.

Drake has been back to South Korea five times since the war, and he donated a Korean War Children’s Memorial that stands at Imjingak, just south of the border with North Korea.

The former Bellingham city council member and retired sociology professor has diligently chronicled the efforts of U.S. service members to help orphans in Korea during the brutal three-year war. His journey has taken him from his Washington state home to the archives of Pacific Stars & Stripes in Tokyo, and to the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

According to Drake, U.S. service members helped more than 10,000 children and sustained over 53,000 in more than 400 orphanages, many of which they either built or repaired. Drake said U.S. troops also donated more than $2 million from the less than $100 per month that most of them earned, and brought in thousands of tons of aid from the United States for the children and their care givers.
korean-vets3
On July 27, Korean War veterans from across the United States will mark the 60th anniversary of the armistice agreement that brought major combat operations to a halt on the Korean Peninsula.

While the armistice is has never been replaced with a peace treaty, the ceasefire has enabled South Korea’s rise from abject poverty to the world’s 13th largest economy, in 60 years.

Drake said the most rewarding experience of his efforts to tell the story of Korean War orphans was a letter from one of the children he helped at an orphanage named Manassas Manor after company commander Capt. John Consolvo’s hometown in Virginia.

“My name is Eddie Cho and I am one of your Manassas orphans,” Cho wrote to Drake. “I was about four years old when the Korean War broke out. I remember my father being taken captive by the North Koreans and my mother being so sick and eventually dying of the black plague while trying to escape, on foot, from Seoul.”

“I have often thought of the American Soldiers from the 326th Communication Reconnaissance Company who took care of us at the Manassas Manor orphanage,” wrote Cho. “I had always wished that I could have known their names and addresses so that I could have expressed my gratefulness.”

“So many wonderful memories,” Cho wrote, “We were kings of the world! You included us in each and every recreational activity, such as games and movies, with the spare time you had. I cherish and thank you for those precious memories you provided for us at the Manassas orphanage.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Hagel orders overhaul of POW/MIA identification agencies

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced March 31 that he’s ordered an overhaul of the Pentagon agencies responsible for recovering and identifying the remains of America’s war dead. The reorganization seeks to consolidate the mission, improve efficiency and increase the number of remains identified by the two key agencies charged with POW-MIA accounting efforts — the...
 
 

Half of vets on G.I. Bill graduate, report estimates

A little more than half of the veterans who got college money under the GI Bill since 2009 eventually graduated, though many took longer to do it, a new study estimates. The report released March 214 estimated that 51.7 percent of student veterans earned a degree or certificate for some kind of higher education. That’s...
 
 

Veterans unemployment rate dropped in 2013

The unemployment rate for Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans dropped in 2013, according to Labor Department statistics announced March 20. The unemployment rate fell to 9 percent last year for veterans who served on active duty since September 2001. The jobless rate for all veterans also edged down to 6.6 percent. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez...
 

 

Soldier missing from Vietnam War accounted for

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced March 18 that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from the Vietnam War, were recently accounted for and will be buried in a group burial ceremony. Army SSgt. Lawrence Woods of Clarksville, Tenn., will be buried as part of group on March 21, at Arlington National...
 
 

Care, benefits for vets strengthened by $164 billion VA budget

Continuing the transformation of the Department of Veterans Affairs into a 21st century organization, the president has proposed a $163.9 billion budget, a 6.5 percent increase over fiscal year 2014, that will support VAís goals to expand access to health care and other benefits, eliminate the disability claims backlog, and end homelessness among veterans. The...
 
 

Upcoming reunions

April 2-6 15th Med Bn 1st Cav Div. Orlando, Fla. For more information about this reunion, contact Leo Williams at (407) 277-5763 or email dragin52@hotmail.com.   April 3-5 4th Bn 39th Inf Rgt 9th Inf Div (Vietnam, 1966-1969) San Antonio, Texas For more information about this reunion, contact Jim Haines at (303) 809-1815 or email...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>